If you find yourself unmoved by its warmth, sincerity and above all, wisdom not to...
Chris Jones 2002-11-20
Let's get this out of the way: this album will NOT change the world. Its songs fit neatly into the career of the world's most famous lead guitarist. Messages of positive vibrations, ecological warning, vaguely liberal snipes at capitalism (from a millionaire), mystical mumbo-jumbo - it's all here. And yet... Unfinished at the time of George's passing, Brainwashed stands as testament to the modest career of a modest man to whom the trappings of stardom really did mean nothing. If you find yourself unmoved by its warmth, sincerity and above all, wisdom not to exceed its boundaries, well, you're a very cold fish indeed.
In fact, a fish graces the key song on Brainwashed. ''Pisces Fish'' sets out George's ambitions and dreams as plainly as any song he's ever written. Dispensing with unnecessarily florid couplets he states, ''Rowers gliding on the river, Canadian geese crap along the bank, back wheel of my bike begins to quiver. The chain is wrapped around the crank'', before going on to tell us that he's ''a Pisces fish and the river runs through my soul.'' If it sounds quaint, it isn't. It's a simple song about the simple things that meant more to him than a high public profile.
It's worth noting that since 1987s Cloud Nine Harrison had, in effect retreated into a wholly private life filled with gardening and family. Like Lennon before him the world burst in (unbidden, in the form of a crazed assailant), yet he emerged whole, only to be brought down by circumstances beyond his control. In ''Rising Sun'' he talks of being, ''...almost a statistic inside a doctor's case'' and on ''Looking For My Life'' he longs for spiritual solace. Yet this album rarely dwells on personal negativity, despite the circumstances surrounding it. Instead he berates a world gone wrong (''Brainwashed'', ''P2 Vatican Blues (Last Saturday Night)'' and turns in a bunch of lovely, sad, love songs, tinged with regret yet lifted by his trademark slide guitar (''Stuck Inside A Cloud'' and ''Never Get Over You''). And let's not forget the charming ukulele turn on ''Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea'' that'll leave a grin on your face.
Jeff Lynne has recently apologised for putting a little too much fairy dust on this incomplete set of songs, but he needn't worry. Just as with the Travelling Wilburys, Lynne's production (combined with Jim Keltner's ever-dependable drums) suits Harrison down to the ground. Heaven knows, Lynne spent longer being a Beatle than any of the fab four! This is, without doubt, the way we should remember this dark horse.